Message from the Executives
CEO's Report May Commentary
With the city and province continuing to move forward with reopening, the TTC is seeing its customers return across all modes. Bus boardings continue to lead at 61 per cent of pre-COVID levels with streetcar and subway boardings at 52 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively. As employees from across Toronto begin returning to the office after spending roughly the past two years working from home, we anticipate that our ridership numbers will continue to rise through the spring.
We continue to welcome our customers back and we’ve been working hard to keep them informed about what the TTC has been doing to ensure the entire transit network is ready. Some of the measures include enhanced cleaning of vehicles, hand sanitizer available in stations and on streetcars, as well as partnering with Rocketman and Transit mobile apps to provide real-time bus passenger count information in an easy-to-read format.
Last month, the Province announced further changes to its masking rules beyond April 27. Masks continue to be a requirement on public transit systems through to June 11. This of course includes all TTC properties, including vehicles and stations. The TTC will continue running updated safety reminders about our mask policy for customers returning to the TTC across the system and on social media platforms.
We know that life is slowly beginning to return to normal and many, including the TTC, are working to figure out just what the new normal is. There was a nice reminder last month when our friends at Corby Wine and Spirit sponsored free rides on the 504 King streetcar route on April 8 – the Blue Jays home opener. It was an exciting 10-8 win for the home team in front of packed house at Rogers Centre.
The TTC played a big part in getting fans to and from the game. This season holds a lot of promise and we’re looking forward to welcoming Jays fans through our doors all year long. TTC employees are fans too and we all wish the Blue Jays the best of luck this season.
Diversity and Culture Group
TTC recognizes Asian Heritage Month
This month, for the first time, the TTC is recognizing Asian Heritage Month across all its properties. Throughout the month, employees who identify as Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian are sharing parts of their heritage with the TTC through posters, employee TVs, the employee app and MyTTC | Weekly.
Recognizing Asian Heritage Month is an important part of our broader commitment to build a more equitable and inclusive transit system for everyone. We’ve done a lot of good work, but we all know there is still work to do as we continue to develop important programs and initiatives to address racism and discrimination.
COMTO Event – Asian Canadians and Stereotypes in the Workplace
On May 17, the Toronto and Region Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) is holding a virtual event to recognize Asian Heritage Month. The panel discussion featuring Ruby Dhillon, founder of Pink Attitude, Rosel Kim, staff lawyer with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, and Shirley Samujh-Dayal, Director of Operations of Coast Mountain Bus Company, will touch on the dangerous impacts of bias and stereotypes in the workplace.
To find out more, or to watch a recording of the event, visit the COMTO Toronto and Region website at www.comtotorontoandregion.ca.
Earth Day clean up at Mount Dennis
As part of Earth Week activities in April, the Mount Dennis Division Recreation Committee organized a community clean-up in the Mount Dennis and Black Creek area. About 100 volunteer employees and their families as well as community members collected and disposed the equivalent of two bus loads of trash uncovered by the spring thaw.
The TTC continues to be a transit leader in innovation, sustainability and green initiatives year round. Our public transit network plays a vital role in helping to create a greener, more sustainable future for Toronto and neighbouring regions in the GTA. To find out more about what the TTC is doing in this area, visit www.ttc.ca/riding-the-ttc/TTC-Green-Initiatives.
Strategy and Customer Experience Group
Advancing Analytics at the TTC
Employees from our Advancing Analytics working group have been studying data innovation and technology for the last several months to determine how to best to use the wealth of data collected by the TTC. This is one of the subjects in the Hot Topics section in this month’s report. We look forward to sharing how we’re using data and analytics to improve our operations and customer experience.
ACAT celebrates 30 years
Since 1992, the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) has provided their experience and expertise to TTC staff on the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and seniors, and recommendations to eliminate barriers to accessible public transit.
The TTC has made huge advancements over the past three decades to make public transit increasingly barrier-free. ACAT, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on May 19, has been there with us at every turn, making certain we’re recognizing the diversity and mobility of our riders so that the TTC is everyone’s system.
On behalf of Wheel-Trans, and the entire TTC organization, I’d like to thank and congratulate the current members of ACAT: Jonathan Marriot (Chair), Debbie Gillespie and Anita Dressler (Vice Chairs), Angela Marley, Bobbi Moore, Carmen Galven, Craig Nicol, Erica Tanny, Gwyneth Dalzell, Howard Wax, Janice Shachter, Lauren Foote, Lauri Sue Robertson, Sean Hollingsworth, Wangari Muriuki, and pool members Lorraine Le Camp and Robert Hampson.
TTC 100 – A look to the future
Last month, we launched the TTC 100 contest inviting students from kindergarten all the way up to Grade 12 (our next generation of riders) to share their vision for the TTC of the future. We asked students to send us their best ideas using illustrations, photos, drawings, models or short essays. Submissions are being accepted until May 15 and the winners will be announced on June 8.
The contest celebrates the TTC’s 100 years in service and is held in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the STEPS Initiative. Contest winners will be invited to show off their creativity at a public transit fair to be held at Nathan Phillips Square on August 22. Winners will also receive a prize pack of TTC merchandise and have their idea incorporated into a future community station art mural produced by a local Toronto artist.
Service increases, reliability improvements continue
The TTC continues to restore service levels on some of the routes that had temporary reductions late last year. We remain committed to restoring service to pre-pandemic levels this year.
On May 8, customers saw service increases and reliability improvements on the following routes: 16, 17, 29, 36, 41, 43, 68, 81, 83, 365, 509, 512, 927, 929, 939, 941, 943, 968, 985 and 996. Several other routes saw new schedules to improve service reliability. Along with seasonal increases on the 86 Scarborough, 92 Woodbine South and 175 Bluffer’s Park services, we also introduced two new seasonal routes: 172 Cherry Beach and 174 Ontario Place-Exhibition.
Starting on Sunday, June 19, the TTC is set to begin service increases and reliability improvements the following bus routes: 39 Finch East, 72 Pape, 189 Stockyards, 939 Finch East Express, 21 Brimley, 86 Scarborough, 134 Progress, 927 Highway 27 Express, 929 Dufferin Express and 30 High Park (seasonal).
Temporary streetcar operations at High Park Loop
In April, the TTC started rerouting temporary bus and streetcar services through High Park Loop while track reconstruction and platform and overhead wire modifications take place at Dundas West Station. While work is planned to continue into June, overnight streetcars are scheduled to be replaced with buses starting on May 8.
In an effort to reduce noise levels from streetcar operations even further, additional mitigation efforts have been taken, including adding an in-ground lubricator at the loop as well as onboard lubricators, of which 102 streetcars are currently using at curves and turns across the network and while operating through High Park Loop.
The TTC is also continuing to install noise dampening rings on the streetcar fleet to help reduce wheels from squealing. To date, 72 streetcars are equipped with these specially designed rings, with another 19 vehicles expected to have them this year.
We’re also reminding Operators travelling through High Park Loop to adhere to the posted speed limit, and dispatching a track sweeper to keep rails clear of debris, as required.
A combination of all these measures should help reduce excessive streetcar noise for the residents living in the surrounding High Park neighbourhood. TTC staff will continually monitor the area and keep residents updated on our progress.
Partnership with Centennial College
The TTC has partnered with Centennial College to deliver the in-school portion of the Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) Technician Apprentice Program. This program falls under the Railway Car Technician Program (or 268R) that requires approximately 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and three levels of in-school training. Centennial College recently announced that it was approved for provincial funding to offer this program. My thanks to Chief Vehicles Officer Rich Wong for his leadership, and staff’s efforts, on this initiative.
The first of three, eight-week, in-school apprentice training sessions is scheduled to start in late-2022 or early-2023. The classes will consist of 20 TTC LRV Technician Apprentices. All participants will be required to complete the 268R Program as well as complete an additional level (Level 4) of in-school training consisting of TTC-specific streetcar components and accessories.
The TTC is working with Centennial College to secure dedicated space on campus and at our streetcar maintenance facilities. The TTC will also support the college by providing specific streetcar components for training purposes.
With recent expansion of LRVs in Toronto, Centennial College is also looking at developing a Modified Apprenticeship Program (MAP), which will offer high school graduates an opportunity to further their education by taking a rail technical program that delivers the in-school portion of the 268R Program – ahead of being registered as an apprentice. This will benefit transit agencies, such as the TTC, because this will allow companies to hire new talent interested in pursuing the trade as well as provide students a great opportunity right after graduating from high school.
Innovation and Sustainability Group
Innovative partnerships supporting future electricity needs
Innovation and sustainability are key priorities for the TTC. On Earth Day (April 22), the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), in partnership with the TTC, City of Toronto and PowerON Energy Solutions LP, announced a $14.6-million joint investment in two projects at the TTC that are designed to explore how battery storage capacity and regenerative braking can help eBuses and subway trains reduce peak demand on the power grid. This partnership with the IESO, which operates Ontario’s power grid, will help make the transit system more sustainable and efficient by leveraging existing TTC infrastructure, and ultimately contribute to a cleaner and greener city.
Safety and Environment Group
Vaccination clinics update
Team Toronto, in partnership with the TTC, hosted several vaccine clinics at subway stations across the system. Between March 31 and April 17, more than 3,300 people were vaccinated, bringing the doses administered at TTC sites to over 13,000. These clinics offered first, second, third and pediatric doses, with no appointment necessary or TTC fare required. TTC staff will continue to work diligently with our city and health partners to find opportunities for as many people as possible to get vaccinated and protected from COVID-19 at a convenient place and time.
Vaccines are the best protection against the virus, and with Toronto in the midst of a sixth wave, it’s important as ever to take every precaution and follow safety measures diligently and consistently.
The next TTC Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 and will be live-streamed on the Official TTC YouTube Channel, starting at 10 a.m.
Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
This commentary is published in the CEO’s Report, which can be found on the TTC Intranet and ttc.ca.